Korean tea cookies or Dasik (다식 茶食) are wonderfully light, mildly sweet and melt-in-your mouth sweets that date all the way back to the 17th century. My ancestors prepared this very traditional, gluten free and vegan Korean treats for Lunar New Years in Korea. During the Shilla and Goryeo Dynasty, these Korean cookies were served with traditional tea – something usually enjoyed by only by nobility and royalty.
These delicate and elegant tea cookies were made from sesame seeds, grains and pollen (especially pine pollen). Joseon Dynasty records show that when a royal banquet was held, Korean desserts such as this Dasik, Yakwa and Gangjeong were all “piled high” (고인다 Goinda) on tables to create an imposing table. Records show that these towers were piled high – as high as 55 centimeters (21+ inches)!!
If you have ever attended a traditional Korean wedding or a 1st birthday (첫돌 Cheotdol) party, then you may have seen the table with towers of Korean sweets stacked ridiculously HIGH!!
How to make Dasik
Fine powders from sesame seeds, grains and pollen are each mixed with honey syrup to make doughs of different colors and flavors. Traditionally, Dasik is made in 5 different colors – white, yellow, black, green and red. Learn more about Korean 5 colors or Obangsaek 오방색 here.
What is Dasik pan (다식판) / Dasik mold?
If you remember, back in 2015, I wrote a post about my visit with a Tteoksal artisan. And from this visit, I was so fortunate to bring back a Dasik-Pan or Dasik mold with 11 beautiful designs (see pic at the end of post to see all of them). I think my husband asked why I need to buy one and I said, “I may need it someday and besides, isn’t it just oh so beautiful?” And now I am able to bring this fabulous post to you because I brought it home with me!!
So please tell my husband that I did a good thing.. 😜 The mold designs have lotus, plum, chrysanthemum, marigold flowers then bamboo, peach, phoenix designs along with some geometric patterns. And the letters 복 福 good fortune and 차 茶 tea are also included – a PERFECT design to wish people a very happy Lunar New Year. In addition to the letters, designs symbolize wealth, fertility and all the good stuff. And different designs were used for ancestral rites (제사 Jesa), weddings, birthdays and other special occasions.
OK..now, just between you and me (shhh.. don’t tell my husband), I had completely forgotten about these molds until my blogger friend Christine contacted me recently about a virtual #SweetLunarNewYearParty that she was hosting and asked if I wanted to join. A Sweet Lunar New Year Party?? OF COURSE! But hmm… what do I make for this party?
It had to be a new recipe… so I racked my brain trying to come up with something. And then EUREKA!! DASIK!! I am sorry Dasik-pan… for ignoring you for so long…
So, here is a list of all the happy and yummy Lunar New Year sweets created by some very talented fellow bloggers. I invite you to try some of the recipes below and have a sweet Lunar New Year Party of your own. If you have any of your own special sweets, please share with me
- Snow Fungus Soup by Vermilion Roots
- Indonesian Honeycomb Cake (Bingka Ambon) by What To Cook Today
- Chinese Peanut Cookies by Wok & Skillet
- Vietnamese Steamed Rice Cakes by A Taste of Joy and Love
- Gluten-Free Chinese Almond Cookies by Grits & Chopsticks
- Black Sesame Shortbread Cookies by Little Sweet Baker
- Coconut Red Bean Pudding by The Missing Lokness
- Korean Caramelized Sweet Potatoes (Goguma Mattang) by What Great Grandma Ate
- Cashew Nut Cookies by Anncoo Journal
- One Bite Pine Nut Cookies by Yummy Workshop
- Baked Coconut Walnut Sticky Rice Cake by Jeanette’s Healthy Living
- Black Sesame Cream Puffs by Pink Wings
- Cashew Nut Cookies by Roti n Rice
- Mini Peanut Puffs (Kok Chai) by Malaysian Chinese Kitche
- Thousand Layer Cake (Lapis Legit) by Daily Cooking Quest
- Pineapple Cookies (Nastar) by V for Veggy
- Three Color Dessert (Che Ba Mau) by The Viet Vegan
- Sweet Sticky Cakes (Kuih Bakul) by Lisa’s Lemony Kitchen
- Sweet Rice Balls with Peanut Butter (Tang Yuan) by Omnivore’s Cookbook
- Candied Ginger (Mut Gung) by Plant Crush
- Chick Egg Tarts by Dessert Girl
- Red Bean Soup by Nut Free Wok
- Orange Scented Sweet Red Bean by Lime and Cilantro
Korean Sesame Tea Cookies – (Kkae or Heukimja Dasik)
** Although the recipe is very simple, it is a bit tricky to make the right consistency dough because it all depends on the water and oil content of your powder ingredient. So please plan on buying extra ingredients in case you have to tweak the recipe.
Yields: 20 cookies (2 cm) Cooking Time: 30 minutes Difficulty: Medium
- If your sesame seeds are not roasted or if you want to bring out more flavor, roast your sesame seeds in pan for 3-5 minutes on medium heat. Stirring often so they don’t burn. Once you start to smell the roasting sesame seeds and/or if you see smoke starting to come up from the pan, turn the heat off.
- Make honey syrup by first melting sugar and water in a pot on medium heat. Once sugar is melted, add honey and rice syrup. Raise heat to medium high while stirring often. Bring to boil.
- Once it boils, turn off heat and let it cool. Do not boil too long, it will become too thick. Syrup should be similar to pancake syrup consistency (not the 100% maple one but the other kind).
- Finely grind sesame seeds in a blender or chopper. Start at low speed and let it run for 1 min or so as long as the seeds are moving. The longer you blend, the finer it will be. Grind it until it starts to lump up because of the oil being released. If you grind too long, you may end up with too much oil which will make your dough too wet. 1 cup sesame seeds will make about 1/2 cup ground sesame seeds. ** Traditionally, big mortar/pestle was used to make this.
You can ground a little more and you will get something like this – and this is good.
- In a bowl, add the sesame seed powder and sprinkle sea salt on top. ** Traditional recipe either omits salt or adds salt while you grind the sesame seeds but I think adding it separately later creates a special burst of salty that makes it a similar experience to eating a salted caramel!! Try to use good quality sea salt like fleur de sel or Korean premium sea salt if you can.
- Add 1 Tbs + 1 tsp of the honey syrup to 1/2 cup sesame seed powder and mix well. It should come together and form a ball. It should also hold shape nicely when you form it in your hand. Similar to play-doh consistency. Depending on the type of sesame seeds, how fine it is ground, you may need more or less syrup.
- Take a little bit of the dough and roll into a ball. Raise the mold by inserting the bar so the dough can be pressed into the mold. (see my slideshow above for instructions)
Press the ball into each mold and make sure it is filled to the top, flush with the frame.
Once the molds are filled, take out the spacer and push the top frame down. You will now have cookies sticking out like so –
OK, this is the tricky part of making Dasik. If the dough is too crumbly, it will break off as you try to take it out of the mold. If it’s too wet (too much syrup or too much oil), then it will not hold its shape.
- You are done! You can make other flavor/color dasik with different powders.
For green tea cookies, you have to use a slightly different recipe, please check this Matcha Green Tea cookie post. Besides green tea, the most traditional ingredient to use is Pine Pollen (송화가루 Songhwa Garu). It is quite expensive and not easy to get in Korea and impossible to get in the US but perhaps I can collect it myself here someday.. haha..
I also have a Omija (Five Flavor Berry) Dasik recipe in the same post as the Green Tea cookie recipe so please check there.
I know not everyone can get these Dasik molds so if you don’t have one, you can easily:
- roll them into little balls by hand and coat them with sesame seeds – I really like the extra crunch the whole sesame seeds bring
- spread them out with your hands or roll them out and use any small cookie cutter or pie crust cutters (see the leaf and star design below)
Note that these cute and delicious Korean sweets need no baking, no unhealthy fats and is not too sweet. I really hope you will get to make some for your Lunar New Years or Chinese New Years!
How to store Dasik
- Keep covered in container at room temperature for several days up to couple weeks.
Dasik – Korean Tea Cookies for Lunar New Year
- 1 cup roasted sesame seeds (110 g / 4 oz) or 1/2 cup sesame seed powder (white or black sesame seeds)
- 1/8 tsp sea salt or more to taste
honey syrup (makes extra – use 4 tsp to 2 Tbs of syrup per 1/2 cup ground powder)
- 1/2 cup rice syrup (조청 jocheong)
- 3/4 cup honey
- 1/2 cup sugar (7 oz / 100 g)
- 2 Tbsp water
- If your sesame seeds are not roasted, roast your sesame seeds in pan for 3-5 minutes on medium heat. Stirring often so they don’t burn.
- Melt sugar and water in a pot on medium heat. Once sugar is all melted, add honey and rice syrup. Raise heat to medium high and stir often and bring to boil. Turn off heat and let it cool. Do not over cook
- Finely grind sesame seeds in a blender. The longer you blend, the finer it will be.
- In a bowl, add the sesame seed powder and sprinkle sea salt on top.
- Add 1 Tbs + 1 tsp of the honey syrup to 1/2 cup sesame seed powder and mix well. It should become pretty lumpy and hold shape when you form it in your hand. Similar to play-doh consistency.
- Take a little bit of the dough and roll into a ball. Raise the mold by inserting the bar so the dough can be pressed into the mold.
- Press the ball into each mold and make sure it is filled to the top to be flush with the frame.
- Once the molds are filled, take out the spacer and push the upper frame down.
- The cookies will now stick out (protrude) from the mold and you can gently remove each cookie.